Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Scripture

"For You [are] my lamp, O LORD; The LORD shall enlighten my darkness.
2 Samuel 22:29

There are times in life when we wonder just where the Lord is leading us and how we will ever arrive in that place. Such is this time in our lives. God rarely tells us how the details of life will work out, rather He calls us to trust Him. I don't pretend to be in the spot where I have learned complete trust, but I am working on it, or rather God is working it in me. Learning to trust takes practice and practice is never easy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter...

You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17

The snow machine is working well. Now that it is up and running, how do we turn it off?

I have to smile. The end of February and the first week of March always seem to bring the biggest and best snowstorms. Winter's last blast. It will soon be over and those apple trees will be covered with pink blossoms. For now though, the snow is up to our knees in some spots and we are grateful that Dave has a plow on the front of his truck. We are not stuck in the driveway.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Flag Box

My father in law retired from the United States Air Force. After the military ceremony at the funeral his wife was given the folded American flag. My husband is a wood worker. In honor of his father he built a flag box which will soon be shipped to California. It is beautiful.

Wishful Thinking

My blog says spring, but out the windows it still looks like winter. No school today, no little girls. We slept in and the house is quiet and still. I think the worst of the storm is over. We were blessed with wet, heavy snow, the kind that's good for making snowmen. The kind that nobody wants to shovel. Good thing for the "man with the plow". Thanks, Dave!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Going the Extra Mile

On the wall in my parents house is a small plaque that reads something like "Grant that I may not judge my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins." Last night I walked a mile in my own slippers (on the treadmill) and it got me to thinking...

My slippers are not very pretty anymore. They attract dirt and wood chips cling to them. The decorative little fuzz balls have come off the right foot leaving the pair mismatched. Though I have thrown them through the wash several times since receiving them (at Christmas), they still look rather, um..., "well loved"? I wear them around the house every day and they even traveled along with me to San Francisco two weeks ago. They are comfy and my feet are happy wearing them, but I'm not sure anyone else would find them very appealing.

Of course, real moccasins(or shoes) is not what the proverb is referring to. It is rather an encouragement to stop and take a look at life through the eyes of someone else. Instead of being quick to judge the words or actions of my brother, it is a call to look at life from a different perspective, to figuratively "put on the shoes of my neighbor" and "take a little walk".

I try to follow that bit of advice, even though the shoes of another often feel uncomfortable. Sometimes they are too big and other times they pinch a bit. Rarely do shoes other than my own feel completely comfortable and, quite honestly, there are times when just hobbling down the driveway in someone else's footwear would be painful. I prefer to wear my own for a variety of reasons.

Obviously the writer of this little proverb didn't expect one to wear the shoes, walk the mile, and then feel free to judge and criticize. Instead it was a warning against being hasty in judgment, to look for understanding. The Bible has its own warning, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20.

If I step on your toes, I'm sorry. It is not my purpose in this blog to judge or criticize. Instead I am looking inward, reflecting on my own heart and actions, hoping to catch a glimpse of life from another perspective and be an encouragement to others.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Am Smiling Now

"Fran & Marlo Cowan (married 62 years) playing impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. He turned 90 in February. The song is Old Grey Bonnet."

My darling daughter will appreciate this video that I found on my friend's Facebook account this morning. (Beth, I think this is the "real" Silas and Miranda...)

It is good to know that growing old can be as much fun as being young. Makes me wish all the more that I could play the piano. Do you think it's too late to learn?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Adjustments

It has been a year of testing and trials. God is working in our hearts and lives, molding us, shaping us, and drawing us closer to Him. It has been almost five months since my father took his leave from this life (two and half weeks for James' dad) and we continue to adjust.

Mom is doing fairly well. She has completely entrusted Dad into the care of her Savior and does not fret over his passing, though I am sure she misses him every day. She often keeps herself busy doing puzzles and is quite entertained by the antics of her great grandson. Dave and Leta have pretty much settled into living there with her and do a good job of keeping up with her needs. My sisters and I are incredibly grateful to Dave and Leta for their presence at the house and sleep much better at night for it.

Mom's age seems to be catching up with her and she finds it difficult to remember little details during the course of a conversation. She will often ask the same question two or three times. I must admit, it is disconcerting but does not get me ruffled. It has been difficult to watch my parents grow old, much more than I'd ever imagined, and I love them in a whole new way. I have a new appreciation for those before me who have dealt with both aging parents and teenagers, and am grateful my teenagers are fairly mild.

I am very much looking forward to spring and the wonderful ability to sit out on Mom's back porch and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with her. Maybe the bird feeders will get refilled and, quite possibly, Dad's little rabbit friends will once again reappear.

Happy Birthday, Little Sister


Happy 10th birthday to Imani!
I hope it was a good one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Games Little Girls Play...

These little girls play some very interesting games. I'm not sure which one thinks up the best, but they always keep me guessing... and telling them to settle down. I'm not sure this game needs an explanation...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Auntie Martha's Pie Making Class



This is how my mom taught me to make a pie. I honestly haven't tried anything too fancy. Simple pies are some of the best, especially fresh fruit pies in season. I use Crisco because I have found cheap shortenings hard to work with, and I add water just one tablespoon full at a time and stir it with a fork. Why? Because Mom said to and it works. When I divide my dough for a two crust pie, I make the ball for the top crust slightly smaller than the bottom. I dampen the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top one and make sure the edges are sealed up. It's always a good idea to place your baking pie on some kind of a tray to prevent messes in the oven unless you don't mind the beeping of the smoke detector.

1-CRUST PASTRY

1½ c flour
½ t. salt
½ c. shortening
4-5 T cold water

Stir flour and salt together. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water one tablespoon at a time stirring lightly with a fork. Add only as much water as is needed to gather dough together in a ball. Roll on lightly floured surface. Place in pie plate, roll and crimp edges before adding filling.

To bake unfilled pie crust, prick bottom and sides will with a fork. Bake in very hot oven (450°) for 10-12 minutes or until golden


TWO-CRUST PASTRY

2 c. flour
½ t. salt
⅔ c. shortening
5-7 T. cold water

Make as one crust pastry dividing ball of dough in half before rolling. Roll on lightly floured surface. Place in pie plate, add filling and top with second crust. Crimp edges together and bake as directed.

Just had to add a photo of the finished product. (Thanks, Priscilla!)

Family Friday

I think they look a little bit alike... Okay, I think they look a lot alike. Look at those eyelashes! And they both have blue eyes too. And, if Lukie's hair wasn't all soaped up with shampoo, their hair would look the same too.

I think it's fun to find family look alikes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sprinkles

"The candy man can cause he sprinkles it with love and makes the world taste good."

Thirteen things about sprinkles...

1. They're colorful
2. They're tasty.
3. They go with everything.
4. They look like little pills.
5. They stick to wet fingers.
6. We call 'em "Jimmies".
7. They're made of wax (maybe).
8. They make cookies beautiful.
9. Sometimes they're chocolate.
10. I buy them in bulk.
11. They make birthday cakes special.
12. They're good for what ails ya.
13. They put the smile on top of a cupcake.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tongue Tied

My mind is full, but my thoughts are still jumbled. I have said in the past that words can be a healing balm or full of bitter poison, and found that to be true once again this week. I do not feel the need to defend anything I have written as my words were not meant to hurt or offend. Each one sees the world from a slightly different perspective and last week I had the opportunity to see a little piece of it through the eyes of others, not just my husband and his sisters, but my father in law's family in California.

My husband was born on a US Air Force base in Japan. His family has, for most of their lives, been exposed to the culture and customs of the Asian people. They have enjoyed authentic Asian foods, seen faraway lands, and learned simple Japanese phrases. I have never had the honor of such privileges so everything about it is still new. Two days in the home of near to perfect strangers is hardly a chance to come to know and appreciate such things, especially when everyone involved is grieving.

My father in law had two distinct families who came to together last week to honor the man who ties them together. One family has had him for the past 40 years. They have come to know and love him well. Their hearts ache for the presence of the one they love. The other family, the one I know, aches for the father they never had a chance to know, the one whose presence they have missed for most of 40 years. We have tried for much of that time, in our own ways, to mend fences and break down barriers, but didn't always know quite how to bridge the gap.

Relationships have grown through the years. When Jimmy was born I wrote letters, "Dear Grandpa," "Love, Jimmy". After all, they had the same name. There were occasional phone calls, like the one that got me out of bed in the middle of one dark night. There were sporadic visits. I have met my father in law three times in the past 28 years, the first at a family wedding. There were pictures and emails. He once refferred to me as his "email buddy," but really getting to know him was a mountain we never overcame.

So, two families grieved together and yet alone, in the same place, at the same time, and for the same man, in different ways. I watched my husband hold his weeping stepmother in his arms and for a moment the families almost became one... who knows, maybe it will still come to be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crowns and Glory

Children's children are the crown of old men, And the glory of children is their father.
Proverbs 17:6

I find this verse taking on new meaning.

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day

It is President's Day and we celebrate with a week off school and a federal holiday for banks and other public buildings. At the Jelly Belly factory they honor past (and probably present) presidents with Jelly Belly jelly bean mosaics. I doubt George Washington ever imagined he would look so great in candy.

I don't think Abraham Lincoln had ever heard of jelly beans, but I'm pretty sure seeing his portrait in beans might have made him smile. It made me smile.

And everyone knows how much Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. His Jelly Belly portrait has been done several times over. He is the president honored by the creation of blueberry jelly beans in order the there would be red, white, and blue jelly beans at the White House. "President Reagan's passion for jelly beans inspired Blueberry flavor, which was cooked up so he could serve red, white, and blue beans at his inaugural parties."- The Jelly Belly Company

I think I might have been tempted to capture all the mosaics on my camera had we not been told taking photos on the tour was not allowed. (These were by the front door when we first came in.) You can check out the others here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thoughts to Ponder...

An emotional week has come to a close but thoughts and questions linger. I guess there is not much to say except that I found the funeral service to be heart breaking, but aren't they all? There are always the "what if's" and the "if only's" that we must learn from and then leave behind. I found that there are not always a multitude of fond memories to draw comfort from, and that once again, people grieve in different ways. We found a clash of cultures, languages, customs and religions. In a way it felt like we were on the outside looking in but strangely belonging on the inside, though we couldn't quite get there. Hard to explain...

We witnessed a Buddhist funeral and military honors followed by a Christian service. We met with a small group of family members with whom we shared tears and long hugs. It was a new experience, something I will carry with me for many days to come.

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to my best friend.

Thank you for being such a huge part of who I am, for sharing life's joys and sorrows with me and for allowing me to share in yours. You are much loved and appreciated.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jelly Bellies

While in California we decided to take a field trip. It was sweet. Actually the idea came from my husband's mom who lives in Nova Scotia. She suggested checking out the "free" tour at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. It was just around the corner, it was "free", and it sounded like fun, so we took her up on the idea. There were some sweet looking vehicles outside. Though I liked the RV's the VW Bug was my favorite.

Inside the factory we found some sweet mosaics (I'll share them another time) and lined up for the "free" tour. We were each given a cute little paper hat which we were required to wear during the tour. It was rule number one, I think. Number two, no picture taking on the tour. So sad, but you can find a virtual tour here instead. And rule number three, everyone gets their picture taken with the Jelly Belly guy.

It was a fun tour. James' sister, Kim, was with us and volunteered to taste one of the jelly beans for the group. Of course, this was no ordinary bean... It was a baby wipe flavored treat! At least it wasn't pencil shavings or, worse yet, the failed pepperoni pizza jelly bean that turned out tasting like barf. At the end of the tour we were set loose in the candy store. Those "free" tours are quite the marketing tool. I won't tell you how many pounds of beans made their way home with us, but let me do tell you that those bags of "Belly Flops" are hard to turn down, especially with the number of children we had waiting at home.

THANKS, MOM!

From Sea to Shining Sea


We're home again after flying from San Francisco to Newark, NJ yesterday, literally from coast to coast. We are tired, we are sad, we are pondering. I stood for a moment in my husband's shoes and will never be the same...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Last Respects

"Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise:
Ephesians 6:2

Last respects, a final chance for honor...

Tomorrow James and I are flying to San Francisco to say our last goodbyes. We'll be back at the end of the week. Please keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rock Of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

There is a strange comfort in the singing of old hymns. With each passing year, with each dying loved one, the picture becomes clearer and the cross of Christ more blessed. This past week two men we knew passed on, one was James' father and the other a dear friend from church. We all knew Vince was sick and struggling, but we didn't know he would be called home on such short notice.

Friday, February 05, 2010

One, Two, Three

Three guys with one name. Once upon a time in a far away land, we had a baby. We named him James, like his father, and his grandfather. There was not too much name confusion as we called the little guy Jimmy, the middle sized guy James, and the grandfather, who lived far away, Grandpa Jim.

Late one night when Jimmy was very small the telephone rang. I woke from sleep, jumped out of bed, and ran downstairs to answer the call. "Hello, is Jim Teal there?" said the voice on the other end. "Can I ask who's calling?" I inquired. "Jim Teal" said the unfamiliar voice. My mind was sleepy. "Who is this?" I asked again. "Jim Teal," he replied. I was confused. "Who is this?" I repeated. "Jim Teal." I gave up and decided whoever it was wasn't going to tell me who he was. As I called up the stairs to my husband it suddenly dawned on me that the man on the other end of the phone had told me precisely who he wanted and who he was. I was just a little slow in having it sink in. I suppose my father in law got a good laugh out of it, but he never fooled me twice.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

More Tears...

Saying good bye is never easy, I guess it isn't supposed to be. It could be tempting to wish for all the things that never were rather than be thankful for what one did have. I pray my family can find something to treasure in the life of the man they knew so little of and yet who was such a big part of their lives.

I am thankful for the man whose name lives on in my husband and my son. I am thankful for the opportunity to watch him years ago help my husband fix his tie before a family wedding, for the unexpected phone calls late at night, for cards exchanged, and emails sent and received. I am thankful for the few times I had the chance to meet him in person and the little ways I see him in my children; bushy eye brows, a cleft chin, Bethany's congenital cholesteatoma that gave her a special connection to her grandpa, and an avid love of cars in my boys.

Grandpa Jim was not a particularly religious kind of man, but we know that God sees the heart of each one and He does not make any mistakes. We are asked only to trust that He makes wise choices and so, though our hearts are hurting once again, we give another loved one into the hands of the God.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wanna Bite?

Hannah's slide show. Grab some popcorn!
And don't miss the cookie fun in the post down below.

Birthday Fun

What better way to celebrate a February birthday than with heart shaped cookies? Last night I rolled, cut and baked cookies. After preschool this afternoon I spread pink frosting over them and two little girls helped decorate hearts with colored sprinkles. Eight heart shaped cookies for Emma; eight heart shaped cookies for Bella.

I whipped up a fancy little birthday card and Hannah had two little girls write their names inside. Only one mommy had a birthday today but two little girls each took home a plate full of pretty Valentine cookies. I tried to resist tasting, but I couldn't help myself. Mmm, good!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Whirlwind Bathroom Remodel

We have a new laundry/powder room! James put the appliances in yesterday afternoon and I finished my mountain of laundry today. Only a week's worth, not too bad! I think my new room was finished in record time. This is what comes of having a husband whose past job has been demolishing and building stores in the mall. Having a slow work schedule also helps as this project could have been weeks in the making. Sometimes I am amazed at how much time goes into remodeling jobs, especially when drywall, ceilings, and floors need to be replaced. Anyway, I love it! It's fresh, it's clean, it's new.








You'll never guess what happened to my upstairs bathroom today...







Stay tuned to see what happens upstairs. (Are you watching, Grandmanita? Kathy, are you out there?)

Prayer

Please pray for my father in law who lives out in California. He is in the hospital and not doing well. His wife is very discouraged.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Monday's Children

But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God." Luke 18:16

Mondays are never dull, in fact they are full of activity. I don't have to drag little girls out into the snow or leave them at preschool, instead they play here in my living room. This morning I sat here at my computer and listened to them play. "Look, Martha," one of them called, "I'm having a baby!" Some sort of doll or stuffed animal made a bulge under her shirt. "Look, Martha, I'm having a..." said the second as she hesitated and took a peek down the front of her shirt through the neckhole. I laughed. I remembered days long past when my little friends and I would play the same game.

Toys are strewn across the living room; Fisher Price, Beanie Babies, stuffed animals, toy boats and little plastic cups. They have called each other "Darling" and "Sweetie", driven the car to the store, cooked up something to eat, and "burned" their fingers. They have laughed hysterically, been best of friends, and threatened each other with "I'm not going to play". They have taken socks on and off, traded shoes, and pretended Hannah was their Mommy.

I shudder to think how often when my own children were small, I looked around at the toys scattered across my floor and thought of them as nothing more than a mess. To see them as jewels and treasures puts things in a whole different perspective. Though there comes a time when I want the toys picked up and put in their places, I can actually look at the "mess" and smile. What would I do without these little ones to brighten up my days?